In 2023, keeping track of how much energy you use is easier than ever. With the rise of smart meters, both domestic customers and business owners are now able to give suppliers the most accurate readings possible, meaning you’ll only pay for what you use. With this guide, we’ll take you through how to get a meter reading from your smart meter, with step-by-step instructions ensuring you can get a clear and accurate reading.
Why do I need to read my smart meter?
One of the benefits of having a smart meter is that it sends the readings to your energy supplier automatically so that they can accurately tell how much energy you’re using without you having to manually send them in.
Because of this, you may wonder why it’s worth checking your smart meter at all. It is, however, useful to know how to take readings, as you may find yourself needing to for a variety of reasons. For example, if your smart reader is damaged or faulty, it may not be sending the data to your supplier properly. Being able to read the meter before it's fixed may stop you from being charged more by your supplier.
Smart meter vs in-home display
Before we start, it’s important to note the difference between your smart meter and your in-home display. The display is not something you can take meter readings from, as it simply shows you the amount of electricity and gas you’re using on a basic level (it may tell you that your electricity use is ‘high’, for example, but may not go into further detail).
Your smart meter is where you’ll find the exact figures you need to take a reading, and depending on the type of meter you have, there are different ways of doing it.
If you've just moved house and need some help getting your energy up and running, check out our extensive guide.
How to take a reading from a smart gas meter
When you’re checking your smart meter, there are a few things you need to look out for to see what type it is. For gas readings, your reading will be a number followed by ‘m3’, so make sure you note when you check. It’s also important to remember to ignore the numbers after the decimal place when taking a reading. So, if you see the number ‘00063.236’, your reading is 63.
For all types of smart meters, the first thing you’ll see is a display next to a way of interacting with the device. The most common of these is a keypad, with numbers 0-9, but there are a few different variations.
If your meter has a keypad, all you need to do is press ‘9’. From there, you'll see 'Volume' and a reading followed by 'm3'.
How do you read a smart meter with a and b buttons?
If your meter has ‘A’ and ‘B’ buttons, press the 'A' button until you see 'Credit On', then press it again to show 'Meter Index', and again to show your readings.
If your meter has a left arrow, a circle and a right arrow, just press the middle button to show your reading.
If your meter has 3 square red buttons, these may or may not be labelled ‘A’, ‘B’, and ‘C’. Press the ‘A’ or left button to see your reading.
If your meter has an orange and a blue arrow to the right of the screen, press the orange button to see your reading.
If your meter has two white buttons to the right of your display, press the right button to see your reading. This might be labelled ‘OK’ or have an arrow printed on it.
How to read a smart electric meter
When noting your electricity reading, there’s an important distinction between gas readings. Electricity readings end with a ‘kWh’, though the rule of ignoring the numbers after the decimal place still applies.
Again, the most common type of meter interface is the keypad, and pressing 9 will show you your reading.
Your meter may also have two buttons, one labelled ‘Reconnect’ and one labelled ‘Display Select. Press the ‘Display Select’ button until you see the number that has ‘kWh’ after it. This is your electricity reading.
If your meter has an ‘A’ and ‘B’ button, press ‘A’ until you get to TOTAL ACT IMPORT. The number below this is your electricity reading.
Your meter might have three buttons on the side of the display. If this is the case, just press the middle button, and the display will show your reading below the ‘IMP’ on the screen.
Another form of display is an orange button on the left and blue buttons on the right. If this is the case, just press the orange button to show your reading.
How do I take a reading from an Economy 7 meter?
An Economy 7 meter, otherwise known as a two-rate reader, records your energy usage overnight and day separately, meaning you’ll have two different readings. You’ll need to be sure to record both of these, though it can be difficult to know which one is which, as they’re often labelled something like ‘R1’ and ‘R2’.
If you have an Economy 7 smart meter:
Press 6 on the keypad until you see 'IMP R01' followed by 8 digits - this is usually your night/off-peak reading.
Then keep on pressing 6 on the keypad until you see 'IMP R02' followed by 8 digits - this is usually your peak/normal reading.
If you don’t have a keypad, you’ll likely have some other kind of main button to press, such as ‘A’, which you can press to see the readings.
How do you read a smart meter with no buttons?
If your meter doesn’t have any buttons or any way of interacting with it, then it will likely cycle through the different readings.
The number starting with ‘R1’ is your electricity reading, which will also be marked by ‘kWh’. Simply record both readings as they cycle through and you’ll have all the information you need.
Smart Meters: What You Need to Know
Smart energy meters were introduced to the market a few years ago, but are taking a while to really take effect. With a number of device types and generations, it can be difficult for consumers to work out how to upgrade to a smart meter.
Types of Smart Meters: SMETS 1 & 2 explained
What is a SMETS 1 meter?
SMETS 1, or Smart Metering Equipment Technical Specifications, is the name for the first generation of smart meters which were installed in millions of homes across the UK as part of an official government rollout.
This official rollout began in 2016 and was originally supposed to see over 50 million smart meters installed in 30 million homes by the end of 2020.
In June this year, it was announced that this deadline would be pushed back to 2025 to give the government more time to complete the upgrade.
In the south of England, SMETS 1 meters use a SIM card to connect to the 3G mobile network and send your monthly gas and electricity readings to your supplier.
In the north of England, SMETS 1 meters use radio waves to connect to the separate Northern Communications Network.
Some customers have reported that after switching to a new energy supplier their SMETS 1 meter lost its smart functionality and became “dumb” reverting back to being a standard energy meter.
How do I tell the difference between SMETS 1 and 2 meters?
If you have a smart meter but don’t know which type you have, there’s an easy way to find out. Simply take a look at the serial number of your device. If the number begins with 19P, then it’s a SMETS 1, if it begins with 19M, it’s a SMETS 2.
Do SMETS 2 smart meters cost more to get installed?
No, it’s free to get a smart meter placed in your home no matter which type you have.
How will my SMETS 1 meter be fixed?
The government’s solution to the “dumb” SMETS 1 problem was to hire the DCC (Data Communications Company) to create one single unified smart meter network and port all of the affected devices over to it.
This DCC network restores the SMETS 1 meter smart functionality, once again allowing them to talk to suppliers and automatically submit meter readings, and ensures it won’t be lost if you switch suppliers in future.
Smart Meter FAQs
What is a smart meter?
Smart meters will replace the traditional gas and electricity meters we’ve been using for decades.
They send automatic meter readings straight to your energy supplier, meaning an end to estimated bills and the hassle of meter readings. You’ll also be offered a digital smart meter display, which will show you exactly how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence. So there should be no nasty surprises when you get your bill.
How do I get a smart meter?
The government has set a goal to install smart meters in all properties by 2025. Your energy supplier will be responsible for installing the meter, free of charge.
If you can’t wait, you can go to the Smart Energy GB website (www.smartenergygb.org) for more information or contact your supplier to see if they’re installing in your area now.
What will a smart meter cost?
There’s no additional cost to you. In fact, because it will give you information on how much you’re spending, your smart meter can help you see which appliances are using lots of energy and help in making changes to save energy.
Smart meters will also mean the end of estimated bills, so you’ll only pay for what you actually use.
What if I have a prepayment meter?
Your smart meter will make prepayment as easy as using a pay-as-you-go mobile phone. You’ll be able to monitor how much credit you have left on your hand-held digital smart meter display, so no need to keep checking your meter. You’ll also be able to add money automatically online, via an app, over the phone, by text message or in person. So no need for your card or key.
Smart meters will also mean that pre-pay customers will no longer have to pay a huge premium for their energy.
I’m not very tech-savvy. Will I be able to use it?
Smart meters send information automatically to your supplier, so you won’t need to do your own meter reading. Using a digital smart meter display is as simple as checking the time on a clock. It will show you exactly how much energy you’re using and how much it’s costing.
How are they different from other energy gadgets?
You can buy energy monitors that track how much electricity you’re using, but they can’t measure your gas use. A smart meter is different because your energy supplier will install it for free. They’re the only devices that can send your readings directly to your supplier and show you how much energy you’re using in pounds and pence.
Do smart meters need WiFi?
No, your smart meter doesn’t need to be connected to WiFi to work.
Is there a catch to smart meters?
Smart meters have previously caused some controversy. Some people are worried about the overall cost (estimated to be billions of pounds) and how energy companies plan to recoup that cost over time from consumers. There are also concerns about data security as details are transmitted to suppliers.
How do smart meters save you money?
The idea is if you’re able to see how much energy you’re using and have a better understanding of how much that’s costing you, you’re more likely to change your behaviour.
Smart meters also automatically record and submit your meter readings which should result in more accurate billing. You no longer have to rely on estimated readings where there’s the potential for errors to occur.
Can I refuse to have a smart meter installed?
Yes. You are not obliged to have a smart meter. You should discuss any concerns with your energy supplier.